Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Clean Glass

In his latest entry in his debate with Sam Harris, Sullivan trots out the tired old standard: science not only needs just as much "faith" as religion (Sullivan is apparently unaware that the philosophy of science has advanced just a tiny bit since Hume), it's a poorer faith, poorer precisely because it seeks the truth.
The place you are seeking - this "contingency-free" place where no specifics exist but pure truth and a clean glass - is something we people of faith call heaven... [O]nly the truly foolish among us have ever mistaken it for earth, or human life. And when those truly foolish people have attempted to replicate this heaven on earth, they have been responsible for the worst atrocities religion has produced.


I don't know how much clearer Sullivan can be: The search for truth--at least on earth--is foolish and dangerous, it leads to atrocity; we must wait on heaven for the truth. Sullivan, blinded by religion and his conservatism, cannot see the struggle against religion to be anything but the violent imposition of yet another arbitrary superstition. But that's how Sullivan's church operates, how Sullivan's politics works, not how we work.

The "clean glass" that Harris wants, that I want, is not the clean glass sought by the fanatics of every religion, including Sullivan's own, the glass purged of those not force-fed a particular brand of Mystical Mumbo Jumbo. It is not the clean glass so desired by the fanatics of Sullivan's own conservative movement, a glass purged of those who would question the right of the United States to enslave every nation, every person, on the Earth (treating, of course, the white slaves a little better). It is not the clean glass of the Communists, atheists only on the technicality of Marx being a little too recent to make completely divine.

It is not belief in God which is the dirt on the glass. "God" is just one of the many names for this dirt, the dirt for which Sullivan hungers for, the dirt which he cannot bear to lose, the dirt which he insists that the rest of us cannot do without. The dirt is the dirt of superstition, of private truth which can be promulgated only by force, never by reason. This is the dirt which makes "God" possible.

This is not dirt which can be eliminated by killing people. Indeed when one's glass is clean the idea of killing anyone is abhorrent: "Violence is the last resort of the incompetent," sayeth Saint Asimov. We need only teach people clear, logical, rational and sensible thought. Anyone can learn it, nobody needs to be killed. The only killing that's being done is by those whose ideology cannot be rationally persuasive, that can be promulgated only by killing those who do not believe or will not submit.

Sullivan, having a couple of IQ points and decade of education on the average Christian fundamentalist--not to mention being a gay Catholic--has figured out that the particular forms of his Catholic religion are not worth killing for. But Sullivan has not renounced the Catholic way of thinking; he has just transferred his religion to conservatism, with Mammon as his God and Goldwater and Reagan as his prophets, the war in Iraq his Crusades and the demonization of liberals his Inquisition. Sullivan lacks only spine to be a good fanatic; he has the self-righteousness, faux humility, doublethink and superstition down pat.

1 comment:

  1. "he has the self-righteousness, faux humility, doublethink and superstition down pat."

    You can say that again. Try as he might to present himself as ecumenical and humble, Sullivan can't help but wax bombastic concerning the unique place Jesus has as a symbol for millions of believers. He pays a little lip service to Mohammed and Buddha (Jesus's popularity convinces Sullivan that he was the son of God - Mohammed's and Buddha's equivalent popularity raises only un-specified "questions") but he goes on to claim Jesus was unique among the billions of people who ever lived.

    Then he tosses in equivalent of a schoolyard taunt: "There is more wisdom, depth, range, glory, nuance and truth in my tradition than can be dreamt of in your rationalism." Yeah - and I bet Andrew's (holy) father could beat up Harris' father, too...

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